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Off licence owner pleads guilty to supplying illicit tobacco

A shop owner has been fined by a court after continuing to sell illicit tobacco, despite receiving a simple caution in 2017  for the possession of illicit tobacco & vodka from Ealing’s trading standards and licensing team.

Mr Kathiresan Thivakaren was at Uxbridge Magistrates Court on Tuesday (30 November 2021) where he pleaded guilty to 18 offences and was fined almost £7,000.

A case of Johnny Walker Blue Label
Illicit tobacco had been concealed in cases of alcohol

The court heard that Ealing’s trading standards team had visited Hanwell News on the Uxbridge Road previously, seizing illicit tobacco and alcohol as far back as November 2017.

He was visited again in January 2019 which led to him having his alcohol premises license revoked. A year later, he was in court to appeal this decision stating that he had learnt his lesson and was now in full compliance with the law. Magistrates however dismissed his appeal, taking into account his previous conduct.

Trading standards carried out an inspection on the premises the following day on 30th January 2020 to find a shop illicit tobacco hidden in various locations, some of which had been concealed in a presentation whiskey box behind the counter.

In February 2021, Mr Thivakaren failed to attend court to answer charges in relation to his seizure and a warrant was issued by the Magistrates for his arrest.

He was arrested by police on 27 November 2021 and brought before Uxbridge Magistrates Court. He pleaded guilty to all 18 charges was fined a total of £6,792.60.

Mr Thivakaren told the court the business had now been sold. Trading standards confirmed that the new proprietor had also had his alcohol license revoked for continuing to sell to street drinkers.

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, portfolio holder for decent living incomes said: “This is another win for Ealing’s trading standards despite Mr Thivakaren trying his best to avoid the consequences of his actions.

Cigarettes found hidden in a case of Johnny Walker Blue Label
Illicit cigarettes found hidden in cases

“Illicit tobacco and alcohol may be cheaper in the short term, but in the long term it causes harm to people’s health as they do not comply with safety and consumer regulations.

“It also makes it easier for children to start drinking from an early age and makes it harder for people to give up smoking.

“Premises that sell illegal goods are often found to fund organised crime, evade tax and take trade away from reputable businesses, which are already feeling the effects of COVID-19.

“We’re pleased that our trading standards team has brought another successful prosecution. We will continue to work hard to address street drinking by ensuring that local businesses are aware of their legal obligations and by taking robust enforcement action against those who break the law.”

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